Stillwater News Press

Local News

January 27, 2012

President Hargis says buzz is building around Oklahoma State University's new art gallery

STILLWATER, Okla. — Stillwater residents and Oklahoma State University staff gathered at the site of the future Oklahoma State University Postal Plaza Art Gallery on Thursday evening.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis told those in attendance that there has been a lot of buzz about the project and building, which is not only an OSU asset but a community asset, he said.

“We see this in sort of stages and ultimately we expect to have a full and proper museum on the campus at OSU,” Hargis said. “That doesn’t mean (the Postal Plaza) would ever go away, but the advantage of this space is not only can we move our collection here, but we can inventory it, curate it; we can have exhibits come into this space.”

Architect Rand Elliott, who is working with university officials to develop the Postal Plaza’s plaza, asked attendees how they liked the building and quickly received applause.

And the project is just getting started, he said. Elliott spoke of early thoughts that he said will begin to shape the project.

“This is a building that’s about art and storage,” Elliott said. “It will be raw — maybe not quite this raw.”

Louise Siddons, OSU assistant professor and curator of collections, said that since the project started receiving attention, the university has increased its art collection by more than 60 percent. There will be two major gallery spaces totaling 6,000 square feet, Siddons said.

“It’s hard to envision, but I compare it to the Gardiner Gallery on campus right now,” Siddons said. “That’s 2,000 square feet.”

They hope to open the building with a show from OSU’s permanent collection, Siddons said.

“Right now, that’s about 1600 objects,” Siddons said. “Obviously, we won’t be showing all of them, but we hope to have a comprehensive survey of the collection.”

The building will also present an opportunity to bring in traveling shows or exhibitions, Siddons said.

“We’ve been talking to people at the University of Minnesota, Kansas State. Both of those museums have exhibitions they want to share with us,” Siddons said. “They want to borrow from our collection and have shows there and then trade.”

They will also bring in a show from Syracuse University that will serve as their second exhibition at the gallery.

The Postal Plaza is trying to organize a community art show during the gallery’s first summer.

“Stillwater has been a center for art since it was founded, basically,” Siddons said. “There’s always been a thriving art community here.”

The building is as much about K through 12th grade education as it is about university education and as much about developing Stillwater as a community as it is enhancing its academic mission.

“Like any construction project, we’re a little fuzzy, but we’re hoping if we start construction on schedule this spring, it will take basically about a year to complete,” Siddons said.

Organizers are shooting to open the OSU Postal Plaza in fall 2013.

Malinda Berry Fischer also spoke to those in attendance about the building’s impact on the community.

“This is a very exciting and transformational time for Stillwater,” Fischer said. “It is another major step forward in the advancement of art education in Stillwater and it strengthens our town gown cooperation with the university.”

Elliott closed out his remarks by telling everyone he felt like they were sharing a historic moment.

“And there are those moments in our lives — whether it was when your children were born or you got married or whatever — there are those moments in life that are really special and worth remembering and I hope that you remember tonight,” Elliott said.

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